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tv   In Depth with Matt Taibbi  CSPAN  August 25, 2017 8:00pm-10:57pm EDT

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>> cspan, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, cspan was created as a public service by america's cable television company. ....
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recent book, "insane clown president," you write about president trump quote he is no ordinary con man. he is way above average and the american political system is his easiest mark every. >> that was around march of 2016. the time he was sewing up the republican nomination. and the purpose of that article was to try to explain the trump phenomenon to people who were for the first time having to take it seriously and coming to grips with the fact this was happening. so, you know, i took kind of a different approach to trump and tried to really listen to what his supporters were saying and try to focus on what he was doing. my take on him was he was a
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brilliant media manipulator and perfectly suited to play on the weaknesses of the political media. that was true. i wish i had stuck to my guns because i thought he was going to be president and later on in the book i didn't believe that. >> host: the day after the election you wrote i did not see donald trump coming. everybody wrote that, though, didn't they? >> guest: well, they did. it is funny. i did see a long time ago that we were going to have a problem with the post-media atmosphere for which trump was perfectly suited. i even wrote a book about it called the "the great derangement. " never saw donald trump specifically. he was unique and i think what was unique about him was his insight was that the american
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presidential election was basically just a big reality show with bad characters. he made it an engrossing and impossible to miss reality show. >> host: you write donald trump's innovation was to recognize what a bad tv show the campaign was. any program that tries to make stars out of human sedatives like scott walker and lindsay graham needed new producers and a new script. >> guest: we had for a long time in the media been drifting away from policy reporting that was of substance. we had more and more played up the storytelling aspect, the production value aspect of it, the pageantry, the debates were covered like sports content. we had pre-game shows where
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people prognosticated who would win and had dials showing how they were doing according to what he or she was saying. trump looked at that format and said i think internally said wouldn't it be amazing if you put a professional reality actor in the middle who takes advantage of the stage crap. i think a lot of politicians are good enough on camera. they are able to deliver a speech that has been written by their staff but they are not able to improvise and do what trump does and attract the attention the way he did. >> host: when you were covering this did you develop a respect for his campaign style? >> guest: respect is an odd word. i definitely understood and a appreciated what he was doing. i think i saw early on trump was operating on a different level than other candidates. there is a scene in the book
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when the state university in new hampshire and the press was in the middle of the hall roped off and there are these risers and camera men are standing there. trump made us part of the act. in the middle of the speech, he would interrupt himself and say look at these jerks, these vultures. they hate me and never traveled so far for an event. they didn't believe i could do this well and the crowd would physically turn toward us and sometimes boo and hiss and throw things and got very menacing. trump was taking something that was boring, the american political speech which is usually a lifeless event, with this very scripted carefully delivery and he turns it into an
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immediate, physical menacing wwe style performance. it was very memorable for people. you could see they left the hall worked up into a lather and that was unusual for a political event. it was hard not to miss how effective that was going to be. >> host: you relate to the story on election day standing at trump tower and somebody walked up and asked if you were a reporter. >> guest: yeah, and when i had yes, i had a lot of experiences like that on this trail. this to be fair had been happening for quite a long time before trump even came on the scene. reporters had been more and more unpopular over the years. trump used our unpopularity in an interesting way. being a billionaire from new york, he theoretically had a huge accessibility problem with regular people in quote unquote fly over country but made a common enemy out of the media and presented us as the eletiteelite upper class enemy. that was his link to the common
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man. so that trick was incredibly effective for him. we solved his accessibility problem for him. >> host: you called it an easy mark. >> guest: our system political media is setup in a way that is irrational and doesn't work well for the body politics. we are a commercial system. >> what is it like to travel in the presidential campaign reporting bubble? >> guest: it is very difficult and frustrating assignment. the first time i did it for a long stretch was in 2004. you are basically stuck in the same environment with the same people over and over again for days and days and weeks on end. especially in the later stages of the campaign when the secret service gets involved you are literally trapped in the environment. you can't leave the rope line. you have to stay with the same people and talk to them. you are stuck with the candidate, the candidate's aids, and other reporters and those are the only people you are getting information from. so what happens in this environment and i think this is the big factor in what happened with trump is that you just don't spend a lot of time talking to actual people and you miss a lot of important
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phenomenon going on. we get information from things like polls that tell us what is going on. that is how we take the temperature of the people. but it is not an accurate way of kind of discerning what is going on. that kind of bubble kgb very stiffling, suffocating and strange. it is a we're atmosphere to live in for a long time. >> guest: it is very difficult and frustrating assignment. the first time i did it for a long stretch was in 2004. you are basically stuck in the
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same environment with the same people over and over again for days and days and weeks on end. especially in the later stages of the campaign when the secret service gets involved you are literally trapped in the environment. you can't leave the rope line. you have to stay with the same people and talk to them. you are stuck with the candidate, the candidate's aids, and other reporters and those are the only people you are getting information from. so what happens in this environment and i think this is the big factor in what happened with trump is that you just don't spend a lot of time talking to actual people and you miss a lot of important phenomenon going on. we get information from things
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like polls that tell us what is going on. that is how we take the temperature of the people. but it is not an accurate way of kind of discerning what is going on. that kind of bubble kgb very stiffling, suffocating and strange. it is a we're atmosphere to live in for a long time. >> host: tell me if i am wrong. can you draw a direct line from howard dean to ron paul to dennis kusinitch to donald trump >> guest: i think so. they were all protest candidates to begin with. the difference was in the old days the press had had the power to kind of take these candidates and kind of marginalize them. if we thought the establishment media collectively decided that a person like dennis kunsinitch wasn't a fit for the presidency they would describe him as a candidate sometimes and sometimes they wouldn't. sometimes it would be subtle and others it wouldn't. they would describe the person as a fringe candidate or not cover the speeches and signal who is the real candidate and who is not. we have the frontrunners and
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these are the curiosity. what happened this time around was there was so much animosity toward the system and establishment media and this beltway complex king making group that decided who gets to be president and who doesn't get to be president that the voters poured energy in a candidates like trump and bernie sanders whose main selling point was i don't belong to that club. they stood up in front of audience audiences and said these people over here want to tell you who your president is going to be and i am defying that and vote for me. people flocked to those
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candidates. i watched the president tear apart candidates like dean and ron paul and tried to do it to trump but he defied the instinct. he would not have it when we tried to get rid of him. >> host: do you feel "rolling stone" is part of the mine -- mainstream media? >> guest: yes and no. we have been around for so long i guess you would call us legacy media. we are not corporate media. that is an important distincti distinction. we are privately owned but our coverage is a tradition. it has been around for 50 years. you wouldn't describe us as, you know, a thread bearer, alternative media publication any more. we are somewhere in between i would say. >> host: if somebody went back and read hunter s thompson from
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1972 could they relate to it today? >> guest: absolutely. hunter thompson's books are timeless. i think of them more as being great works of fiction than i do do -- journalism becomes irrelevant. it is hard to read it 50-60 years later and get into if but hunter thompson's books are great novels. i wrote this once for one introduction to one of the books that it reminded me of a book like the castle or trial because it is an incredibly story of this guy searching for meaning and justice in this horrible construction of thickness and lies and treachery and what these awful vilians are populating a landscape. he is never able to get there. those books are incredible to me and i think they will last for
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another 100 or 200 years. >> host: let's go back to 2009 with "the great derangement. " you write we were loosing faith in our political and national institutions at that point. >> guest: this is something i saw a long time ago and worried about a lot that there was a trend on both the left and right and unfortunately in america we have to use catch phrases like left and right because there is no other short hand for politics. i think it is inaccurate sometimes. we have to. but people were increasingly, i think, tuning out the quote unquote mainstream media. they were going and seeking out their own stranger media sources. the internet is an incredible invention but one of the things it is good at doing also is
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matching people are with their opinions. so, when people read the news these days, instead of turning on abc or cbs like in the '70s, they can craft their own realities and they these are the five publications that craft the world in the way i agree with it and that is how they get their news. what started happening at the end of the 2000s was people were beginning to retreat into their own camps. they increasingly didn't have a common set of facts we were debating. that, i think, was the precursor to this election and we couldn't agree on what the facts were.
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>> host: is that a negative? >> guest: yeah, i think so. it is a bad thing when the entire society can't even agree on the terms of an argument; right? we don't really debate each other other, you know on issues or politics. he disagree on the literal facts of the argument. that is a difficult place for us to be. if we can't even agree on what happened then it becomes very, very difficult for people to come to any kind of conclusion about anything of more substance than that. this has been going on for a while. i think it is a result of the fracturing of media landscape which is only getting more and more fractured as time goes on. i think now you rarely see a news organization that tries to
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reach the entire population. we go demographic hunting now. we say here are our readers/viewers and we will craft the news to that audience and they will love us and these people won't. >> host: a recent "rolling stone" colment you write roger ales was one of the worst americans every -- column. >> guest: i was thinking about his famous obiterary of nixon which an obitary can be an interesting thing to write and i remember what he said about nixon that he was so crooked he needed servants to help him unscrew his pants in the morning so i was trying to do something similar for ailes. he was the main driver of the phenomenon of target a demographic, give them news they like, and forget about the other
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people over here. he talked about it saying my audience is age 55-dead, you know, they don't want to hear about, you know, working women or liberals. they don't want them to exist. they crafted a news program that was for that audience and that started us down the road of this divided media landscape i think where we are basically a population that is split into camps and we each have our own news sources and don't agree on anything. i think he was a pioneer of that. >> to go back to the what you call the '70s and when we listened to the name news. were they good that abc, nbc, and cbs controlled what we heard and saw? >> guest: no, it was an information monopoly. i read manufacturing consent
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when i was a young person and totally agree with the premise of the book which is that it is very easy to control the opinions of the population if you only have a few media sources and they were almost entirely in line with the policy objectives of the permanent government of the united states. it was a very different kind of news landscape. i think that they have a different attitude toward the purpose of the news back then. the original conception of how the news was supposed to work was if you go back to the telecommunication act of the '30s, the idea was that government would leave the airways to the private companies and in exchange the private
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companies were supposed to provide a public service in the form of meaningful news and supposed to make their money doing entertainment or sports and then you were supposed to be a loft leader and it didn't have to be profitable. they were only there to present something that was factual and use useful to the public even though it was bias and led us into wars like vietnam and excluded lots of voices there was still an urge there to try to get the story correct that isn't necessarily true now. now, i think we are basically crafting an entertainment product for people and people consume the news the same way they consume entertainment which is unfortunate. >> host: back to the "the great
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derangement" from 2009. the derangement kicked off when americans found out they have been betrayed by their political system but failed to abandon that old paradighm. >> guest: there was a frustration. people didn't trust their politicians or the media but didn't have an alternative they particularly trusted. there was a population looking for outlets and that left us ripe for things that happened next year with donald trump. there was an enormous amount of people who were discontent and looking for any kind of change almost irrespective of what the change was. we saw amazing polls last year that 2-3 people favored new direction and they didn't care what the direction was. that usually favored somebody
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like trump. he came in and his main arguments to people was whatever you think of me i am not what you have experienced before. that was, you know, that was very attractive. >> because you were critical many times in your writing about donald trump, did people assume you supported hillary clinton? >> guest: that is unfortunately a consequence of how americans consume the media now. it is assumed that if you write something negative about one part party you must support the other party. this is the consequences of the politicized media. if you are saying something negative about the clinton's you must be a conservative and that unfortunately is the materialist view of what news is as opposed to just being, you know,
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sometimes people will have, you know, negative feelings about both candidates or they are just trying to be objective and trying to call things as they are. it is not necessarily a political act to cover somebody in a positive or negative way. >> host: from "insane clown president" -- by the way where did the name of that president come from? >> guest: there is a band called insane clown posse and i was trying to come up with something that was hang around donald trump for a year and makes you not want to be subtle in your marketing ideas. >> host: who did the drawing on the front? >> guest: of the insane clown president? victor. he is amazing and he and i have worked together for over a decade. he has the same disturbed sense of humor i do. we had a lot of fun during the campaign. >> host: the clinton's probably should have left politics the
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moment they decided they didn't care what the public thought about how they made their money. >> guest: i thought that was an amazing detail that came out in other books but among them shattered and described a moment when hillary clinton was trying to decide to accept what ultimately turn into $100 million in speaking fees, she said, you know, they are going to write negative things about me whatever i do. that was the substance of the quote. i can't remember exactly what she said. but when you are in that place as a politician and you are basically saying it doesn't matter what i do anymore, people are going to hate me no matter what, then what that basically means is that in my mind you are
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no longer really worrying about what the public thinks about you which i think it is dangerous place for a politician to be. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly in depth program where we invite one author on to talk about his or her body of work. this month from your new york studio we have "rolling stone" correspondent and author matt taibbi. he is the author of several books. his first one coming out in 2000 called the exile; sex drugs and libel in the new russia. spanking the donkey came out in 2005. "smells like dead elephants" came out in 2007. "the great derangement" which we have talked about a little bit. a terrifying true story of war, politics and religion 2009.
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his most recent books are "griftopia" 2011. "the divide; american injustice in the age of the wealth gap" and finally this past year, "insane clown president: president dispatches dispatches from the 2016 circus" circus". this is your chance to call in and talk with matt taibbi about his work and politics. 202-748-8200 eastern central time zones. 748-8201 in the mountain and pacific time zones. we have social media ways to get through including twitter. at booktv is our twitter handle. send a tweet and use that and we will see it and maybe use it. you can make a comment on our facebook page if you go down you will see a piece there are matt taibbi and
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you can just make a comment underneath there and we will get those comments on the air. and you can e-mail booktv@cspan. matt taibbi, how did you get into the this business? >> it is the family business, actually. everybody i knew growing up was a reporter. my father was a news reporter starting from ages 18 and that is mike matt taibii. he was in the business for 50 years. my stepmother was an anchor at cnn. business anchor. >> host: what is her name? >> guest: beverly shook. and my family friends growing up worked at the international herald tribune. mile child was like the movie anchor man. i spent most of my formative years in local television affiliates and guys with bad facial hair.
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i never wanted to do this for a living. i wanted to be a novelist but it turned out my fiction was pretty bad i fell back into the family business and i have been here ever since. >> host: when did you know you were a writer? >> guest: always wanted to be a writer from the age of 11-12. that was never a question in my mind. i had a really deep love of books. when i was growing up, i was an only child and we moved a lot. brooks were a tremendous pral ice for me. i was depressed a lot. when i started to learn how to write i became obsessed with the
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idea of writing being a religion. if you really get into it, you can never really complete the task of being perfect at it so you have to constantly try to practice getting better and better and i became addicted to it at a young age. i wanted to be a comic novelists. my heroes were funny writers people like stalky and nick ogle and people who wrote hardwood dog and books like that, catch-22. evelyn law. these were the things i wanted to do when i grew up. i spent a lot of my early years in my teens trying to do that kind of thing and didn't work out. but, you know, journalism has been great in a different way. i think it is an amazing profession because it allows you
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to see the whole world and meet this extraordinary range of people and you know, it has been great, in a way that probably is more fulfilling than sitting at home and being a fiction writer would have been. >> host: you said you were depressed a lot. why? >> guest: i don't know. some people are just depressed. but -- >> host: you think it's organic. >> guest: probably is. most people who have that problem would tell you that it's just a chemical thing in your brain. interestingly a lot of the people who were kind of my heroes also had the same problem. i remember reading about gogle who was a famous russian writer,
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and he was terrible depresssive, and he conquered it by sitting at home and trying to think of the funnest things he could all day long and wrote those things down and that's how he got through it. that was something i did a lot in my teen years. i tried to write funny stories and things like that. that was the way of kind of making sense of the world. >> host: on your bio, it says you were the sports editor for the moscow times. hough how did that happen? >> i was living in russia. studied in russia in 1990 and '91. so i was there when it was communist and i was there -- i went home -- they had a revolution, and then i came back, and i loved it over in russia so much -- one reason was that as a young, often depressed teenage and 20-something, you know, america was a very difficult flies be glaus was enormous pressure in america to
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be successful and happy and on the television everybody has perfect teeth, and in russia everybody was depressed. people were -- nobody had nice clothes and i thought i fit right in here. this is perfect. so i -- when i went to study there i just didn't come home, and before long i ended up needing a job and so i started stringing for various newspapers and sooner or later i ended up meeting people in moscow. they had an expatriate newspaper there and since had a sports background they gave me the sports editor's job. >> host: ahead howe did you play professional basketball in mongolia? >> guest: i had played basketball in college in the states from bard college in new york. i'm an okay division 3 basketball player, basically,
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and i played a lot of street ball in moscow and was out at moscow state university one day, and i met this kid, we were playing a game of three-on-three and he said he was from the capitol of month mongolia and he told me they had a league there the mba. he said it was the only league the world with nba rules outside of america, and it sounded like so much fun. went into work the next day and quit my job and packed my stuff and got on the trans-siberian right field and when -- railroad and when i got i tried out and again got on a team. was having a great time except i got quite and i will had to come home, but it was cool. that was like a sports star there, and people would recognize me on the streets and stuff. it was great. i was known as the the mongolian rodman. >> you have written about your drug use.
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why is that personality for us to know. >> guest: i don't know if it's important for nobody know. didn't particularly feel a need to deny it. i had a period there in russia, we had a newspaper called the exile which was like a night life guide, and we were young and in a town that war very much like the wild west. communism just collapsed. it was crazy at the time and we were doing a lot of crazy things, and i did have a pretty serious drug problem at one point, and i -- it's not that i particularly want nobody know about it but i guess when somebody asks i'll admit to it. >> host: you have been with "rolling stone" since 2005. your book, griff-topia, came out in 201. in that book you write that allen greenspan's rise to the top is one of the great scams of our time. >> guest: yeah. so, al green greenspan was a
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character i originally had planned on doing just a few thousand word little section on him because he was so important to the whole history of the modern financial services industry. his attitude -- he has this philosophy derived from ayn rand. an acolyte of hers, and he was fascinating to me as a character because he was very famous for being this great predictyear of economic events, but when i went back and looked turned out he had been wrong about almost everything he ever predicted, and so he was mostly, like a lot of famous hangers-on, who hang around rock bands or other celebrities, famous for being somebody who was really good at telling politicians want they wanted to hear, and that gift of being like a president whisperer
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really is what allowed him to serve in the capacity that he did for so long. wasn't that he was so great an economist. he really wasn't. more he was a very skilled politician and that is what i was trying to demonstrate the book. >> host: the divide came out in 2014. in the end, the one bank to get thrown on the dock was not a wall street firm but one housed in the opposite direction, the little to the north, tiny family-owned community bank in chinatown called an a back -- an cuss federal bank. >> guest: this is an amazing -- incredible story because this -- it's a tiny family-owned chinese immigrant bank in chinatown, it's stuck between two noodle shops, and it was the only bank in america to be indict after
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the financial crisis, and they were indicted because of a series of very small improprieties they themselves reported to the authorities. there was -- they were eventually prosecuted for defrauding fannie mae but fannie mae never suffered a sinkle cent of loss in the -- single cent of loss. so hear you have this tiny regional bask surrounded by behemoth financial instance institutions that settle for billions for committing crimes on massive scales but noun were criminally prosecuted and that was because we have this new doctrine in america which is too big to fail, and to too big to jail. we have said people like former attorney general eric holder, have said that they were reluctant to prosecutor certain companies because they were
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worried about the quote-unquote collateral consequences and what that might do to the larger economy. the convert if we're afraid to prosecute a bank thaws of what might happen to the economy, that mean you have to be small enough to prosecute. that happened in the case of abacus. they found a bank that was small enough to prosecutor. so they indicted them but very recently they were all found not guilty, and so it's an amazing story. highly recommend everybody watch the movie. >> host: july 9, 2013, you were in the courtroom when cyrus vans junior was the prosecutor and these people were marched through in chains. >> guest: yeah. some of them had already been arraigned and they brought them back a second time for a photo
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op. not one of the major bankers, who got no trouble or accused of wrong-doing after 2008 -- none of them had to so much as appear in a courtroom. all of these big deals between the settlements between companies like jpmorgan-chase or goldman sachs all done in back rooms and just an exchange of money. nobody had to sit the dock or being publicly humiliated but when you have this small immigrant bank, they needed a photo opportunity so they indicted a bunch 0 people and literally got enemy in a chain gang and dragged them into the courtroom and they excuse -- the excuse the prosecutor gates that wasn't up to us, that was up to the bailiffs and the court but it was clearly political.
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the purpose of telling that story was to show that the dichotomy and how we treat different kind odd people, when we talk about a group of people who don't have power, influence or connections, we treat them one way, and when they do have connections they near solve the inside of a courtroom. >> host: i sensed a feeling out outrage on your part. >> guest: of course. think outrage is an important component of bag reporter. i think if you aren't in touch with what is outrageous, then it's very difficult to do this job. you have to maintain your sense of it throughout the years 'one thing that happens to people who are in the press for a long, long time, is you get outrage fatigue after a while. you have seen so much horrible stuff and some much bad behavior you stop responding to things in a way a normal person would. that's something you have to guard against as you get older. this feeling of, i've seen that before. you have to continually say,
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this is not acceptable, and find ways to get upset about it. >> host: from the divide, we have a profound hatred of the back and -- the weak and the poor and a groveling terror before the rich and successful and we're building a bureaucracy to match the findings. >> guest: yeah. what i was trying to say there was that the underlying political -- what drives the policies that lead to mass incarceration, to things like stop and frisk, community missing and stopping 500,000, 600,000 people a year, emptying pockets pockets and throwing anymore jail for nickel bag and dime bags on the one hand and then we take people like hsbc one of the worldest largest banks caught laundering $800
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million for narcoterrorists in central and south america, and we don't even prosecutor those people. they just pay a fine and walk away. i think that what is underlying the policy divide there is that we feel like x group of people, we worship the people who make money. we have a reverence, admiration for people who are quote-unquote wealth creators, and the people we see at parasites and nuisances, we have no sympathy for them whatsoever. they month in jail. ed a an eye-opening experience when i was writing the book. i asked a prosecutor in washington, how can you let these guys who laundered $800 million in drug money -- how can you let back and not good to jail, sending people to jail for possession on the other hand? these guys have to sit in jail.
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what he tied me was what he tied me was: have you been to a prison? those places are dangerous. and he didn't mean it in an ironic way. what he was trying to say, without really admitting it, was i just don't see that kind of offender as deserving jail. no matter what he or she does. but these offenders, well, they grew up in these bad neighborhoods and they're used to that kind of thing so of course we send them to jail. that is what i was trying in get at, this psychological split we have where we just have this hidden hostility towards people who are poor and without means and we fear and revere these other people, and not to go on about this too much but i had an experience in russia that was -- that gave me insight into this. when i was a student in the soviet union, when i went to school in the morning, i would see these kids selling blue jeans and rabbit hats and that was commerce so that was against the law in communist russia, and everybody now and then the kids
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would disappear for three or four weeks do a little but the jail and come back. meanwhile the people they were selling to, they would sell docks and t-shirts and clothes to the party members who were the -- running the school, and nobody ever did anything to them. that was because it was so engrained in soviet society that the party members don't get in trouble but these people do get in trouble. i think that kind of unspoken split is where we are as a country, and it's just hard to reconcile with. >> host: class split? =>> guest: yes, i think it's a class split. goes beyond that, too. i think clearly race is a huge factor also. think white audiences probably wouldn't want to admit it but they would look differently at a
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poor black person who gets busted with a bag of weed in his or her pocket than a white kid who is busted for the same thing. say he is just going through a phase, is what they would say. kid will be kids. but they would say something very different about a black kid who gets pulled over and has drugs found on them. so it's race of class and all those thing jazz before we leave the dwight you -- you also visited california and went through the welfare system. what was that experience? >> guest: well, again, what i was trying to show is a lot of the big banks and financial companies i'd covered, a lot of them were technically guilty of things like fraud. if you want to prosecute these people it would be a fraud
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statute. so i looked at how they treated those people and then i wanted to see how they treated people who committed crimes like way fair -- welfare flawed. and i talked to people on welfare and they would tell me stories about how you have to fill out this gigantic sort of complex of forms just to get the aid in the first place, and then what they would do is check every single item that you entered, like on a monthly basis and had this whole network of computers, constantly searching you record and if they're any inconsistency as all they jeopardy rate a fraud case and you'll either be prosecuted for and it your benefits everyone away, they can interior home at any time. a supreme court case says they
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can do that. if once you're taking public aid. so i was just trying to show that, again, this dichotomy and how we treat people. you couldn't just go and seize the books of a company that has committed fraud like a mortgage -- prime mortgage fraud. they would treat them differently than somebody who committed welfare fraud and punish them much more severely for the will fair fraud than the $100 million fraud. so i was just trying to show how even getting that aid is a constant struggle to avoid being prosecuted for misusing the funds, whereas people who enjoy the large ss of the federal reserve backing window, their borrowing billions of dollars a month from these gigantic banks -- the government doesn't do anything. so, again, i was just trying
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show the differing attitudes towards the two classes of people. >> you hear from your "rolling stone" readers? >> guest: oh, yeah, absolutely. i hear from people on twitter, and i make it a point to read -- if anybody writes hate mail or a critical letter, if somebody take his time to actually sit down and write me a letter, i always read it. think it's important to read your hate mail. not everybody does it. i don't block anybody on social media. i think often you need -- that's one of the ways to get better as a writer, you listen to your readers and sometimes they tell you, this thing you tried didn't work. it wasn't funny. it sucked. and you have to listen to that. >> host: matt tiabbi, is it easy -- is one susceptible to being brought into the group think when you're on the campaign and you're in this bubble, is there a group think susceptiblity? >> guest: absolutely. it's a social thing. it's a class thing. again, just to talk about the
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differences between -- when i was a kid, and around the people who my father worked with, reporting was more like a trade than a profession back then. a lot of people who were in the press who didn't go to college. they were like this -- they got in sort of via the hersh method. be copy boys at age 16 and just work their way through and it was a job more like being a plumber or a electrician hand being a doctor or lawyer. and the -- become then i think those -- back then those people didn't have any affinity for politicians. they had this stick it to the man attitude. of course it was a far less diverse group of people on the one hand but in terms of class, they were very much more working class group of people back in the day. now when you're on the campaign plane you see a lot of people who are like me. they come from privileged background, went to really could school, tend to be white and well off, and they get into this business often because they're trached to the idea of being
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near power and powerful people. they want to hang out after the speech with the candidates aides or the candidate, his or herself, and you would never have seen that 30 or 40 years ago, this desire to be behind he rope line with he politician. bank then the politician was the enemy. and what i was definitely seen lately is that socially the media and the people that are covering are the same people. after the campaigners are over they hang out with each other. the political strategists and the aides and the pollster goods to the same bars and the upper west side. i don't know that's a healthy thing. it may be, may not be, but certainly different from what it used to be. >> host: in your book,en sane clown president, you're very critical of the mannequin. what happened? >> guest: the hillary clinton
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mannequin video. yeah. i think that might have been a little gratuitous. this is right after the election i wrote that and i remember looking at the mannequin challenge they called it. a bunch of people who were on the plane together and it was press and the clintons' aides aides and jon bon jovi was in the shot as well. and what happened -- again, when you're in that environment for a long time, it becomes romanticize. we're all on this adventure together, it's cool wore hanging out and there are celebrities on the explain we're all friends, and that congenial atmosphere -- you see is in books like primary colors whether it's just this -- they kind after lionize whole idea of a roving campaign but they -- there is would this
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disaster looming outside the plane and they were completely unaware of it, of it happening. the probably all should have been panicking instead of playing that goofy game. don't know. i've had -- it's not exclusive to the clintons. i've seen that kind of thing in a couple of different campaigns. i was in a plane in the obama campaign once where i came in and i noticed all the reporters had photos -- had taken photos of themselves with barack obama and then post evidence it on the -- they would stick them on the side of the plane in the press session. like barack obama, vetted for him but that was a bad look for us. didn't want to be acting like groupies, even just superficially looked bad. and so i think that's what i was
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trying to get to with the mannequin challenge. even if we do like the people we are hanging out with on the plane, we have to kind of pretend at least that we're separate. maintain that distance. because it's a bad look when we get caught making a mistake like we made in this race. we get entirely wrong from start to finish and that's bad for us. >> host: in-under your columns you have been critical of tom freedman, the "new york times" columnist. >> guest: yeah. i actually kind of enjoyed ready tom friedman. what i have gotten after is his writing style. he is famous for mixing metaphors and some of them are so strange that it's almost like a psychedelic experience trying to follow what he trying to say. he'll -- he had -- like he compared once the iraq war to driving a war with no steering wheel and sometimes you just have to throw the wheel out and
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-- but yaw can't drive a war with no steering wheel. he has a famous thing, the rule of holes. when you're in a hole that's too deep, you should stop -- when you're in three holes, stop digging. you can't be in three holes at once. all these bizarre images that are kind of mismatched in his writing and i really enjoyed writing and it i met him once and he was very gracious and i felt bad about saying negative things if just find his writing interesting. >> host: what's the origin of the name tiabbi. >> guest: it's a sicilian name or arabic origin. it's i'm neither after those. my father is adopted. he is filipino and hawaiian and was adopted by a sicilian family in new york. show less text 00:54:33
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unidentified speaker >> host: matt tiabbi is the best. correspond andent and author. his latest book, insane clown president. he's the cover. phone numbers: >> host: tyler in marietta, georgia, you have been very patient. >> caller: you talk about the media being complicit in the terrorist acts they're provide nonstop storage of their attacks. why does the media get this? i know they probably do but they're going to generate more ratings. mat. >> guest: that's an interesting question. i hadn't thought about it from that point of view. clearly terrorism doesn't work if no-sees it.
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so on the one hand there's -- probably some truth to that. on the other hand, it would be hugely irresponsible not to cover these things at the same time. so i don't know exactly what the main medium is there. maybe there's a way to do it that is lessen situational. more people die in domestic murder than in terrorist attacks. that's definitely a consideration but, yeah, clearly dish wouldn't necessarily say we're complicit in it. i just think it's -- probably a way to do it that wouldn't quite amplify the effect. people are so scared of terrorist they've made some crazy political decisions as a result. dating back to 9/11, and a lot of that has to do with the bombardment you against when there's a terror attack. that's good point. is
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>> host: do you find yourself when things like what happened in london -- do you find yourself turn thing tv immediately. >> i? i don't. again, i lived in the moscow when terrorist attacks were routine, the chechens were routinely bombing the city. just missed being in a subway bombing. dust feint that it's something i have to glue myself to the television to watch. it's a fact of life. i think it's a very complicated political dilemma, but getting myself worked up about it is not -- i don't think is helpful. but clearly there is something to the idea that scaring people is a way to get them to tune
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into your network, and terrorists are scary, so there is a commercial motive there, and might be worth unpacking that a little bit. >> host: well, i can't find which book or article but you say the best story for cnn is somebody has fallen down the well and the best story for fox is somebody was pushed down the well bay radical muslim terrorist. >> guest: exactly. the point i was trying to make is that both the formula in the liberal media and the conservative media is the same formula. wore both looking for the same sensationalist stories. just that the fox version tends to be tilted in a direction if they can manage it. their favorite story will tend to involve some kind of political nemesis, whether it's a liberal professor or an
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islamic terrorist or god knows who else. >> host: next call from nancy in redondo beach, california. hi, nancy. >> caller: hi good, morning, guys, and thank you to c-span. matt, i've followed you for a very long time. any question is that my sense is when a journalist or reporter is going to write a story or a book, most it's kind of confirming what they already believe and may ignore what they don't want to see or contradicts what they initially believed, and i wonder, have you personally -- has there been a time when you thought a story was going to be one
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.... their recall editorial decisions and they all speak to what your opinion on the subject is. so, i think there's always bias, and there are a lot of different
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ways to handle it. i try to be just sort of open about it when i'm covering something, i'll say, this is what i think about the subject. in terms of the other thing, about the confirmation bias, the second problem, that is a huge issue in our business because among other things now, speed is such a factor in how the commercial media works. you have to be as quick as possible in generating your content, and one way is by knowing what you're going to say before hand. if you're going to do a story on, let's say, middle class white suburbanites who left the republican party to vote for president trump. you go to the vent and look for people like that ask them leading questions that confirm your thesis and as soon as you get the quotes you dump them in the story and publish it. and that's not a good way to do
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business. i think it's much better to enter into a subject in a way that is open-ended, and that allows you to freedom to go in a different direction. i've definitely had the experience of covering a story and thinking it was going to be one thing, and then having it turn out to be something completely different. i've had the experience of expecting somebody to be dopey at something when i started investigating and having it turn out they weren't, and i've had to abandon the story. you have to have the freedom to not write, too. and a lot of reporters don't have that freedom. so i think that's kind of the key thing. unfortunately, again, because of the way our business is structured, it's just really hard to allow reporters the latitude to kind of go where the facts lead them as opposed to cranking out content. >> host: phyllis in brooklyn, new york. hi, phyllis. >> caller: i have a question about health care.
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specifically the members of congress, what kind of health care do they have? how much is their deductible and their copay? do their plans cover abortion and birth control? how old are their children on their health plans? how long do they keep these health plans? for life in who funds their health plan? >> guest: um, that's a great question. i actually don't know the answer to that. do know that they -- members of congress do enjoy a federal health insurance program, or at least they did until the last tomb i covered the health insurance story. so, yeah, we're paying for their health insurance, and that, of course, adds to the perversity of members of congress moving to take away health insurance from people. so, that information is easily discoverable if you just go on the internet and look for it.
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>> host: this is an e-mail question from flor in california. with your experience in the former soviet union, what is your take on the current putin-trump row brans and sub version of the u.s. political system. if trump were a democratic president might he be tar and feathered be the right and what similarities between the russian and american national character? >> host: what is your take, first of all. >> guest: i have taken a little heat for this, for being kind of a skeptic on this russia story, and my concern with this story is not -- first of all i'm politically -- it's clear i'm not a big fan of donald trump. i certainly wouldn't shed a tear if he were impeached. but my concern about the russia story is that it's been very
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sloppily reported, it's been reported in a way that lends people to excesses. just to give you an example, the steele dossier that was released. no responsible news jutlet would if touch that, and when buzz feed published that, it set in motion a chain of events that i think was very unfortunate because we -- as a -- as reporters, we as a rule don't publish unverifiable accusations of crimes against people for the simple reason that we would want that to happen to us, and so when we did this with trump, with this dossier that had this explosive set of allegations in it, but was totally unverifiable, now it's all over
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the internet and it's -- we have millions and millions of people who sort of believe implicitly that this thing is true, and it's led to audience having -- audiences coming to news story with a set of expectations. they already believe a certain set of facts has been confirmed when we don't know for a fact exactly what happened. this story, i spend months on this and this is an example of what i was just talking about, about not writing when you can't find what the truth is. every time i tried to actually get ahold of something concrete with the story, i just kept coming up with dead ends and suppositions suppositions suppositions suppositions and anonymous suggesters without verifiable and concrete information. i worry a lot about the story. i think it's -- it could be a disaster for our system of media
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if this turns out not to be true, and i just worry that we're getting in over our skis with this thing. >> host: you say you have gotten the treatment from others. >> guest: this is one of the thing is worry about, which is when -- people are emotional enough about a story that they attack somebody for -- there's a new term out there for people who don't believe the russia to go thing away call them anti--anti-trumpers. and so what they're accusing people of is basically aiding and abetting donald trump or the rockses. i've been accused of being a russian agent, among other things, because i lived in the russia for a long time. what happens when people see that happening to people like me, even though i may not worry about that criticism, other people might and they'll think twice about saying, i'm not sure about this.
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and it silences people, and that's not a positive thing. people become afraid to speak their minds, and these stories generate a momentum. everybody knows it's easy to get hits and followers on twitter by fueling this thing and they know that the opposite will happen if they express any skepticism about this thing, and that's not a positive situation. you don't want people being afraid to say what they see, and the media in particular -- i saw this starting to happen last year before the russia thing even took place. there was a shift, and even people liketime routenburg in "the new york times" who wrote openly. the said trump is such an extreme character, such a threat, that we in the media have to rethink our traditional kind of objective posture towards things and start to become advocates and start to
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think of ourselves as a way -- a force that will stop him. and i think a lot of people in our business have adopted that attitude. what is dangerous about that attitude is is undercuts or power institutionally in the media. the me where derives it's pour entirely from its independence. if we're seen as being part of the democratic party or part of a resistance effort that aids one party over another, then we completely lose our legitimate si. we have to be seen as only being about one thing that's the truth. and when we're seen as being being something else, then we're useless to people. don't have any real function in society. we have to be separate. it's kind of like when the senate in order to help barack obama push through his nominees, they got rid of their ability to filibuster presidential nominees
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a couple years ago because they wanted to end the gridlock in washington. that seemed like a great idea to at the progressives at the time because it helped people get through and do their work, but look what happened three years later. now the senate is too weak, the minority party can't filibuster trump's nominees, and the senate undercut itself. it undercut its own institutional authority on behalf of somebody else. the media is doing that now. we -- by signing on with this kind of resistance effort and making us indistinguishable from that effort, we are losing our power, and we have to be seen as being separate, and that's what i worry but. >> host: for another part of his or her question was, differences or similarities, russian and american character. >> guest: well, there are a lot differences and similarity us.
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both countries citizens view themselves as super power nations, and they derive incredible pride in the idea they're different from people who live in small countries that don't affect everything on the -- in the world. there was a -- i remember being in the apartment of a russian teacher on the day that they dismantled the soviet map and they changed the name from the ussr to the cis, i forget what that stand for in english but basically the old soviet map became much smaller. as if the united states became 23 states instead of 50. and he looked at the new map and he was crying because he had grown up his whole life with this gigantic 11 time zones
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expanse of a super power, and he thought of himself as part of this empire, and now he wasn't anymore. and i think americans and russians both share that idea, that we are part of this deciding cadre in the world hierarchy. both countries are heavily militarized. much more macho than other countries. in terms of differences, i don't know. that's a long list. americans are much more conservative, i would say. i don't know. i have to think about that one. give me a little bit of time on that. >> host: while you're thinking about that, matt taibbi, let's hear from walter in cincinnati go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hi, matt. i'd like to have -- well, first of all, think you absolutely right that the media has become a mouthpiece for the democratic party, but that's another thing. what i wanted to know is your
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opinion of the writing of ali hersy ali who has written a book, think called holiday heretic," her notion is we will never eliminate the jihaddists by trying to kill them all. we need into support the notion of the islamic world of having a reformation similar to what the christian church did, get out of being in the seventh century. and you're opinion of that and why that is not talked about. i don't see it on any television, nobody is talking about the idea of having the islamic world having a reformation. thanks. >> host: that's walter in cincinnati. are you familiar with hersy ali? >> guest: i haven't rather the book. the only thing i would say to that, walter, have spent a lot of time in the middle east. i clearly don't agree with the idea of -- that killing them all
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with solve any kind of problem. think we exacerbate the problem when we do that. this is an issue that has -- that i agree has to come from a transformation within the societies, and it probably also has something to do with changing our attitudes towards those societies. i think we wouldn't have those -- all of those problems if we hadn't had such a powerful and intrusive colonial presence in a lot of those places for so long and hadn't had san interest anywhere oil commonwealth other issues. it's definitely a complicated issue, but for sure, dropping bombs from -- is not the way to go to me. >> host: a tweet from allen. could you commend on the phenomena of buyer's remorse as it relates to voters who supported trump. >> guest: i haven't seep a whole
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lot of data on how many people have that buyer's remorse imhave seen trump's approval rate is now down around 39%. which is of course lower than -- a little bit lower than where he was in november, but the democrats have also seen a significant drop in their approval rating since november. they were at 45 and now at 40. so, i think people who voted for donald trump, if they weren't turned off to him before november, they're probably not going to be turned off to him. it would take something extraordinary, like proof of him conspiring with vladimir putin or some very, very awful sexual scandal or something like that to really get people to move off their support of him. so, it's like fandom.
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mom home do you know are minnesota vikings fans who suddenly stop being vices minnesota vikings fans. it's a fanatical type of relationship and many cases and hard to break that bond. >> host: you live up near new york city, and you write for "rolling stone." what has been the general attitude of your neighbors and friends and people in the city? >> guest: towards donald trump? well, almost everybody i know is horrified by donald trump, and the dichotomy is not that hard to figure out where it is in america. if you look at the map, almost everybody who lives in a big city votes democrat and everybody in between the big cities votes republicans. the map are incredible. seas of red with little dots of blue all over the country. we're two different countries right now and we see the world entirely differently. if you travel in one circle, you're not going to run into a
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whole lot of trump supporterred. certainly don't. and, again, that probably contributes to why we didn't see it coming. i think most of the people who work in the media, they're like me, the they live in new york, l.a. and washington for the most part. they like shows like "the wire" and "the americans company and they watch movies with subtitles and they eat ethnic food and they don't watch nascar. it's a cultural difference ump think it's going to be rare tough for those two americas to have any kind of exchange with each other. >> host: did you have any friends or family members that were trump supporters that just shocked you? >> guest: well, do have some family members who are trump supporters, but they've been conservatives for quite a long time. so i -- there are couple of
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people who i know who didn't vote this time and that was a little shocking, who -- and that i think spoke to some frustration probably with the democratic party, because these were life-long democrats who aren't voting democratic anymore. but in terms of people who suddenly became trump supporters, don't know anybody like that. do you? >> host: this is an e-mail from man seward in tucson, arizona inch your recent article of goldman sachs purchase of circuits issued by virginia for 32 cents on the dollar you referred to the venezuelan president as a dictator. i was shocked you as progressive journalist would use the word dictator, the same characterization of the venezuelan president that elements in the u.s. government have used ever since chavez. >> guest: i heard some pushback
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on that from some people. i haven't lived in south america. i'm relying on people i know who cover south american politics and many of who write to me from south america. my understanding of that situation is that he essentially cancelled elections and has been acting in an undemocratic way, but i admit there's room for me to learn on that issue. i'll have to go back and look. >> host: barry from scottsdale, arizona. you're on booktv with matt taibbi. >> caller: hi, matt. how are you doing? >> guest: how are you doing. >> caller: i'm doing great. thank you for being on the show. two questions. a little bit off the beaten path. not really. one is, how did -- how did we get from a presidential candidate like gary hart,
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thoughtful, reflective, to donald trump? seems like a huge leap to me. secondly, second question is, what is your take on president obama? i heard you say you voted for him. voted for him, too, but a number of problems we're facing now were allowed to fester under his administration for eight years. he really didn't deal with them. i mean series syria. there's the racial divide in the country, isis, i don't know if he was afraid to deal with them or whatever. i really liked him as a human being but i just don't know as a president if he really did anything. what is your take on those two issues? thank you. 'll listen. >> guest: thanks. well, wrote a puss about obama right after the election, and i had been critical of president obama in the last eight years
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mainly because on the subject i have covered throughout his presidency, which is corruption in the financial services sector, he doesn't have great record there. his administration was mainly known for not taking -- not winning a single conviction against any senior level executive for any of the corruption that led to the 2008 financial crisis, and so because that was my little bailiwick, i was critical of barack obama. i didn't like the fact he ran as an economic progressive and then when we got elect head brought in a whole bunch of people from citigroup to run his transition team, and people like timothy geithner and eric holder were -- and lanny brewer, the assistant attorney general throughout that time, they were corporate lawyers who had long worked for wall street. they had all the banks had been
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their clients, and that came through in a lot of their enforcement decisions. so just in terms of that, i had always been critical of obama, but part of the reflection, looking back issue think history will look back on him in a very favorable way. not necessarily because of his policy ideas. because of the progressive perfect -- he was a disappointment to a lot of people in a lot of areas, whether it's the continuation of guantanamo bay or the drone bombings or whatever it was, but his demeanor, his compose sure and his unwillingness to give in to anger and to not give up on whole segments of the society, i
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was really impressed by what he said after the election by way of, i think, criticizing hillary clinton. one thing he said was, even in places where i knew i was going to lose i continued to try to reach people in rural iowa and there were places where i -- instead of lose big 50 points i only lost by 20 points, and obama was -- what he was saying, wasn't just a strategic think he was talking about. i thought he was saying, basically, we just can't give up on being one whole country. he still tried no matter how bad the abuse directed toward him was -- there was just awful, racist, horrible rhetoric, including the birther thing. he never kind of took the bait and made it divisive and vicious. and now when we have somebody like trump as president, where every tiny slight becomes a
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twitter war in ten second, it's going to impact the national character going forward for a whole generation. i think obama's example he set for young people how to comport yourself was really important one, even if i didn't agree with the things he did policy-wise. so looking back i do really admire barack obama, i think he acquitted himself incredibly well in a nearly impossible situation, despite the fact i was disappointed in some of his decision jazz next call from diana in long pine, california. hi, diana. >> caller: hi. i'm so happy that i get to speak to you. >> guest: hi. >> caller: my first part is a comment, and i just want to say thank you for saying that about roger ailes. i've been watching this stuff back and forth for years and
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always a level of viciousness came from fox and a level of fear. i watch it affect my friends, and i'm older and it's like they became so locked in, that people can't talk about anything like that. i'm more of a liberal type gal. and my -- i just want to thank you for, like, helping me with my thinking, i wasn't going loony, one person can affect a whole nation like that, like day after day, year after year, spouting such -- reporters spouting such mean stuff. and most of the time inaccurate. anyway, the question i wanted to ask you is, why do we need health insurance companies? like i've had round of cancer and luckily i have had medicare and i live because of that, but why -- i remember being -- as a child we just went to the doctor. there wasn't any issue about insurance.
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and so why do we need insurance candidate that take trillions of dollars? thank you. >> guest: thank you. thank you for that. it's been a while since i've covered that subject, but i remember that looking at the comparison of the costs between -- because america's health coverage is by far -- we have the most expensive health care in the world compared to other industrialized nations and the vast majorout of the money we spend that other countried don't spend, it goes to a couple of areas, paperwork and profit. those are the biggest areas of waste in the american healthcare system. and so you could solve the paperwork problem by having something like a single pair healthcare system where we at least had some uniformity in billing, paperwork, and collections. right now -- i remember visiting a hospital in new jersey and --
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which i think subsequently shut down -- where half of their administrative staff was chasing collections, and because they were dealing with so many different health insurance companies and had to do so much work just to get to the point where they were trying to collect from the different health insurers, that it sand -- sapped all of their bottom line and the eventually went out of business. that system makes no sense to me, and of course profit in this area, i understand that companies have to make money for providing a service, but when half of the money that we spend on health care is profit, that doesn't make sense to me, either. it's not an area of expertise for me, but clearly the american system is the most irrational and illogical one in the world. i agree with you. i. -- one thing enjoyed about
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russia is when i got sick i could just walk into a doctor's office and the doctors there didn't he have the best equipment or the best medicine, the shelves were sometimes empty, but they would see me, and i think that is something that this generation is growing up without, this idea that health care is something that you have a right to, and i think that's too bad. so, yeah. in terms of roger ailes, incidentally, i agree with you. i've had a lot of people say the same thing to me, they lost family members of the years because their fathers or mothers or their ons or uncles -- aunts or uncles watched the television all day long and became increasingly angry and bitter and unable to talk to their friends and relatives anymore. i think the way we consume media now, and i think fox is a
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pioneer of this, has made it impossible for people with political differences to be friends. that's really a shame. when i grew up, i can't remember it mattering what a person's political opinions were and now it means everything, and that's just a weird thing. it's really strange. >> host: did the "rolling stone" assign you the financial beat or did you ask to cover that for many years? >> guest: i believe what happened with jon is after the presidential election of 2008 -- i'd covered that -- they assigned me -- it was jon and me editor at the time, will dana and they assigned me aig and that was difficult because i had to understand -- i didn't know anything so i started from zero and had to learn what a
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collateralized debt obligation was or cdss and all these things and that took me a long time but we did and it we got such a huge response to it because financial media up to that point had exclusively been written by people who were catering to people in the finance sector. there is no financial report forking ordinary people. this idea of translating for regular people how wall street works, it was new thing, never been done before. so we got such a response at that time we just kept doing and it i turned into eight years of work. that was a really cool thing. but jon -- he was great during that entire time. i don't think there are many editors who would allow reporters to do 8,000 word features about subprime mortgage fraud or how foreclosure works. these are really arcane,
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difficult, lib ring topics and nascent sound sexy and it's hard to sell those topic but he let me explore them for a long time. it was great stuff. that's all you can ask for in an editor, they support you in that way. >> host: matt taibbi's book is "insane clown president." another now and a half to go in our program. chris in michigan, you're on the air. >> caller: hi, matt. i've been reading your articles in "rolling stone" and i've seen some similarities between your reporting and hunter s. thompson's, and coverage of the nixon campaign. was he an influence of yours or who your other influences might be? thank you, c-span. >> guest: thanks. chris, right? >> host: yes. chris from michigan. >> guest: thank you for the question. clearly hunter thompson was an
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influence of mine. i think every political reporter in the country grew up reading his books. actually one of the high points of my entire career was that i got write the introduction to the latest edition of "fear and loathing on the campaign trail." that was a huge honor for me. i are when i was 15 yours old my daughter another friend of mine took a road trip from new york to key west, and all we did the whole way down was read hunter thompson aloud in the car. i loved the way he wrote. he was this weird four-dimensional almost kind of writer and so funny and he had his own language. it wasn't like -- the didn't write in '60s or '7 sod language. the invented his own strange language and i was really fascinated by him. he was an influence on me, and i
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try not to copy him but it's really hard not to. especially since i have his job and i'm covering the same stuff he was covering so it's hard not to fall into those patterns, but in terms of other reporters, i grew up reading h.l. menkin, somebody who i loved reading. terry southern, and then there were a lot of russians who i read over the year iowa thought were great writers. sergei, kind of like a reporter, he wrote fiction and also sort of journalism. there are other writers who i read who were smart journalists but those are the big one. >> host: ever meet hunter s. thompson. >> guest: i talked to him on the phone once. >> host: what was that like? >> guest: so, i got assigned some -- a publishing company asked me to do a comp layings, like -- it was suppose told be a
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book about gonzo journalism sigh was supposed to put together a compilation of gonzo reporting and i was young and needed the money and i chose a whole bunch of articles i thought kind of fit the tradition a little bit. then i started to come up against this problem that real when you thought bit, all gonzo journalism meant was like hunter thompson, and i thought, can't really do this project without his assent and i needed to know what he thought about it. called him up and he said, sounds like a cpappy project and said, yes, and he goes, loud badly did you need the money? i said pretty badly. he said i can't be part of it but good luck to you. he gilded me out of doing it. -- guilted me out of doing it. didn't do it. he was cool. i obviously since have met a lot
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of people who knew him well. he was nice to me. he took my call at least. >> host: alexander with an e-mail. i found "insane clown presidentty o'library next to neil post reins -- amusing ourselves to death" which i was going pick up. reading them together was quite interesting, was curious if you have ever read "amusing ourselves to death" and whether it was influential to you. >> guest: i have not. >> host: the second part of the question is: what are you currently reading, matt, and any recommendations for the summer? one thing we do here on our "in depth" program is we ask our guests for what they are reading, some of the books that have influenced them and their influences and here are the responses that matt taibbi gave us.
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>> a guy has a gardening column and is dispatched to cover a civil war in abyssinia in africa, and it's a -- like all comes, a misunderstanding, basically, influential person asks for somebody by that name and the editor mistakenly thinks it's that's gardening columnist and they send him out to this brutal place and this just
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hilariously funny. waugh is like a great model for just satire and general because he has this kind of panoramic view of the entire absurdity of the human experience, and on top of that just in terms of his craftsmanship he was an incredibly polished, seamless kind of write jeer have you read anna carin na. >> guest: one of the first become is read in russia. and i know how that sounds because it's such a big book but tolstoy -- one of the great things about tolstoy -- i can't believe i just said that. sounds so pretentious. but tolstoy's wright -- even in english in translation, it comes through that he has this
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incredible rare gift for the powerful simple sentence, right and like he finds the absolute simplest way to communicate the most complicated thoughts, and his prose have this kind of pulsating force that kind of picks up speed over time, and you -- even in russian, he -- my russian is good but not fantastic, let's put it that way, but he uses simple words and simple structure in a way that is just i think gorgeous and it's interesting because i also like some writers, russian writers who have the opposite quality, like goggle and -- they
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a huge fan of sprawling sentences and it's rick to follow in baroque, and -- but i like that style, too. there are two different ways of achieving the same thing, but tolstoy is just the simplicity is amazing and bubble beautiful and injean news. >> host: you're a fan of footnotes? >> guest: yeah. again, i grew up -- i was way more a fan of the kind of goggle method growing up which is to have huge, long, run-on sentences and subordinate lawsuits and parenthesis and i thought it was cool thing to force the reader to do a little work on the way to getting to the point ortho -- point or the punch line or whatever it was, footnotes and taking various
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journeys on the dui finishing itch used to -- on the way to finishing. ed used to do that but now i'm trying to go the other way to make simple declarative sentences and use fewer adverbs. >> host: on your current reading list, can't we disagree more constructively, by jonathan haith. >> guest: he is a i believe a professor here in new york city, and this is just because i've been really depressed by the state of american politics lately, and i just think the partisan nature of it has become so angry and so, like, unredeeming and it's the opposite of what is uplifting. when i read a political book i usually want to feel better about life or at least clearer, and now most of the time when i'm reading political writing,
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it's just a bunch of people denouncing another bunch of people, and i've become interested in the idea of -- there is another way, anything that is happier out there? and that is why i read before this book i read a book called pie you-topia for realis by "a dutch writer, and it's just all about another approach to the politics that is vastly different and why can't we have big ideas anymore, and so i'm reading -- i'm just looking around for somebody who has a different approach to politics and that isn't just blue versus red. just so tired of that narrative. >> host: matt taibbi is our guest on booktv. here's how you can contact us this afternoon. 202-748-8200 of you leave in the east and central time sewn,
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748-8201 in the mountain and pacific time zorns. now, throughout theshow we'll also put up our social media address if you can't get through on the phone line and want to get a comment or question in. matt taibbi is the author of seven books, the first one is called: peel, sex, drugs and liable in the new russia. spanking the don key came out in in five, dispatches from the dumb season. smells like dead elephants, dispatches from marodding empire in 2007. sorry, spanking the donnie in 2005. and griftopia. the most audacious power grab in american history, came out in 2011, and the divide, american injustice in the age of the wealth gap, 2014, and insane clown president, dispatches from the 2016 circus, just came out
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this year. and what i asked you about something you wrote in the great derangment, and of course i lost that piece of paper right now so we'll have to -- i see it right down here. if you can explain what this is about. >> guest: uh-oh. >> host: i have a confession to make. it's not something that is easy to explain but here goes. after two days of nearly constant religious instruction, songs, worship, and praise, two days that for me meant an unending regime of forced and faked responses, funny thing started to happen to my head. >> guest: so this was -- i was under cover, i was trying to do -- i guess it was a little spin on the kind of -- like a black like me kind of thing. instead of immerse -- immersing
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myself in an apocalyptic church in texas,ing me da georgia church where they believe the end of the world is coming, and the rapturists is what they're called. this pastor is a famous guy named john hegge, a big supporter of john mccain and i was interested in what that mindset was like, and so in order to do that i had to craft this persona and join the church, and i came up with this alternative identity and i went away on retreats and learned all the prayers and did all the stuff, and i think that's the sects of the book where i'm talking about how i started to like it after a while, and that was kind of the key insight for me, which was that there's a soothing quality to all these
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rituals and the first time walked into the church and listened to the musician,ing thought this is the worst music i've heard in my life but after five weeks of this i started to sing along with it, i was getting into it, and by the time i left it was getting to the point i thought, have to get out of here before something happens to me permanently. so, that was -- it was an interesting moment. was trying to explain how people can fall for something that on the outside seems ridiculous but they took people who are vulnerable, who are going through difficult things in anywhere lives, and they gave them answers and some of them were simplistic but provided comfort and i was trying to understand that,. >> caller: i have been a
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long-time fooler of matt taibbi. regarding the last thing he addressed about enjoying the church he was go to, social psychologist speak to that and marketers know very well how the brain works. i'm 80 years old, i'm a volunteer with the kmsj in san diego community radio's independent noncommercial station, and i was wondering if matt has suggestions about community radio across the united states. we provide an alternative voice in san diego to what we're hearing on the news constantly here, and, matt, you said that we should be seen as the truth
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in reporting news, and i'm wondering how? as you good on your speak are tours and you're talking about the trump administration, trump himself, when we see a personal view of someone who reports news, then for those who read what that news person writes, do we see -- can we see the truth? >> guest: i mean, that's a good question. the question of how do you get at the truth? for instance, it's marie, right? so the -- for community radio, just answer that part of the question first, i've never worked in radio before but i do think that local media is making
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a little bit of a comeback and some of it is through internet-based media like podcasts which have taken ideas like serial for their own. that's one thing that is great, that community radio can do easily, and with relatively low cost is do things like twelve part series about local issues, right? so you can do some local scandal or a crime or a trial, and it will be interesting to your listeners because it's in their neighborhood and it's about people they know, but you can use story-telling techniques. you don't -- you can make characters out of people. i think that's one of the cool thing about the kind of flowering of new media, as much
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as i've been critical of the fracturing of it, we have all these new innovations and form now that make it really -- make -- we found different, new, interesting ways to tell stories and do the news so if i were in community radio now i'd be really excited about the things i can do. you could essentially make a kind of rolling reality show about a local trial or -- i don't know -- even a local little league team or anything. and these are things we wouldn't have thought to do 40 or 50 years ago when news was always on the radio was four-minute broadcast of this or that or a talk show. now you can do sophisticated story-telling, undercover things. all kinds of cool stuff you can do on radio. would just try to be at creative as possible with that and take
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advantage of the fact that you're local and that's the way to compete with national media. you know the characters better than nbc, cbs, and cnn know them. so, that's an advantage you have. in terms of trying to be truthful and can we ever really know the truth, that's a huge metaphysical question but i would say that the best way to kind of arrive at an understand offering what is going on in the world, for me, is just to consume as many different sources as possible and try to get at what the common themes are. like, for instance, when i was trying to learn about wall street, i didn't know anything going into it, what i would do is call 20 or 30 people and ask them the same question. you know, what is a collateralized debt obligation, how does it work, or what a synthetic cdo, or what happened
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with the lehman bankruptcy and i would get 30 stories and 25 of theme be similar, and then you start to take the common threads and that's -- it's always an amalgamating process when you're try to figure out what is actually going on. never going to get the whole unvarnished truth from anybody. that's walt we do as human being, have to put it altogether. that's what being informed is all about. just read as muching a possible. >> host: have you gotten into podcasts? either listening or creating? >> guest: i listen to them and i may be starting a podcast soon. it's not quite ready to go, but, yeah, i'm thinking about doing that. think it's a cool thing. it's a neat way of kind of communicating with your audience and it also allows you do some different stuff. the work i do, it's pretty tough to do comedy or anything that --
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or movie reviews or book reviews, allows you to get to in different directions and i think it's neat. think there's a lot of really interesting work going on with that. >> host: next call, eric, in middletown, new york, you're on book tv with matt tiabbi. >> caller: good afternoon, gentlemen. matt, i have a question here for you and i can touch on just about everything part of the discussion. first off, your dad is my news guy, along with --...
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.... .... >> it involves criminal system drug testing. are you familiar with it? >> host: eric, thank you very much. matt taibbi?
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>> guest: no, i am not familiar but i am interested in it. can we go on? >> host: he is not with us anymore so you will have to do your own research. you do talk and i want to say it is from "griftopia," you talk about the fact it is easier to get a slam dunk conviction but not to make a complex case to court that could last 10-20 years. >> guest: no, i heard this over and over again from prosecutors. look it at from the law point of view. you get evaluated according to how many convictions you get. so if you are us, are you going to take the core and they are the best lawyers in the world and standard approved it is not easy to meet or are we going to take 50 drug dealers to court and get wins on all of them. some of them we just it in the box, scare them and they conf s
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confess. with these gigantic financial institutions, they dig in and have the best lawyers in the world. even when they are guilty it is extremely difficult to get convictions or it takes so long that, you know, they sometimes can wait out the criminal justice system because they are trying to get within the statue of limitations. i recall a case involving rigging in the municipal bond market and they had these guys on tape and they clearly had them. but it took so long to get that case to court among other things they had to educate the jury about all the jargon and they had to defeat so many motions just to get there that by the time they, you know, went to trial, they ended up loosing some defendants because they didn't meet the 10-year statue of limitations.
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if you are a prosecutor, it is a difficult choice. you will take on these banks and lose a lot of the time. but the problem is, i still think you have to try. otherwise what you are saying to the people is we are giving up; right? we are just going to take the money from these guys because it is too hard to take them to trial. we will take the check and put these people in jail which invalidates jail, as far as i am concerned. it makes it, you know, if a certain class of people can't go to jail and only a certain class of people can, that is not legitimate criminal justice to me. i think you have to try. gl next call is rob in millford connecticut, rob, go ahead. >> caller: as the only conservative to call in today. we see the left is intolerant of
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disagreeable voices. you talked about not look likeing the word liberal conservative but you went to bart college it is liberal and worked for winter who is a liberal man and quoted hunter thompson and you denigrated roger ales, fox news and used the word conservative twice and haven't used the word liberal. i understand what you said but i can i think you are as partisan as fox news on my other side. my question is to do with race. over the past 50 years, by ever single metric all negative behavior is occupied by black and latino people. i contend that black and latino men, roughly between the ages of 15-45, have been and are today our greatest domestic liability. 8 trillion has been spent since 1965. the war on poverty.
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matt, please answer this question. is there any country in africa or where english is spoken that is compareable or greater than hours? >> host: that was rob in milford, connecticut. host: matt taibbi that was rob in milford >> guest: i do not even know where to begin with that question. it is preposterous. what you're saying is that you think that inherently, racially, black and hispanic people are more prone to negative behavior than white people? i mean that is what you are saying. with that is absurd. it is preposterous and i think you should be ashamed of yourself. if you want to come after me and say i'm a liberal and upper-middle-class white kid that went to college and you do not see anything between me and fox news that is fine. even though i clearly regularly go out to the democratic party in my work and i have never
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heard once fox news take on a conservative on that station. i tried to look at everybody. and i disagree with people you know of my own political character all the time. because i think it is healthy. it is not a business for me. i do not do this to try and scare liberals into tuning into my articles so i can make money. this is about trying to call things as i see them. that is not what fox news does. i think that your views, could not disagree with them more strongly. i feel sorry that you feel that way. >> host: this is carolyn in spearfish south dakota. matt, how much blame should belong to the "washington post" and new york times for transferring donald trump that the voters with the other way in response to. >> i do not know about singling
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out those two publications. but i do think that it was a phenomenon that was true. when we you know i talked about this in my book, when the report is when after trump, he rose in the polls. he did not go down.everything the time he had one of those scandals like for instance after when he said i like people who aren't characters like john mccain. i mean it was an un-survivable scandal. right? have you to say things about mexicans in america but veterans? come on. no politician has ever survived something like that. not only did he not go down in the polls when he was excoriated in the media. he rose and when he was confronted he denied that he ever said it and the media went after him more and he went up
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higher in the polls. i think what we learned in that experience we should have learned is that a huge section of the public dislikes us more than they dislike donald trump. and they distrust us more than they do someone like donald trump. this is why have a little trouble with people that say the media did not call trump out enough. we certainly did, it is just that we do not have influence over a segment of the population anymore. and you know i think we have to examine why that is. why are we not listened to my people out there? i think some of it is a class thing. some of it is that we are not interested in the same things that trump voters are interested in but whatever it is we need to address this. >> the 2009 book the great derangement, matt taibbi rice washington politicians basically viewed the people as a capricious and dangerous enemy.
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a dumb mob is only interesting quality happens to be in their power to take away politicians jobs. >> guest: yes. this is something i hear over and over again from people who work in congress. i heard lots of stories from people who talked about how the worst job in the senate office warehouse office is the person who has to answer the constituent telephone calls. i hear stories about people who sit there and when the phone rings they just hold it like this. politicians look at the voter has a kind of nuisance who you know i'm talking generally. there obviously discussions but for the most part politics can be conducted without a whole lot of interaction with the voters. basically you can construct a policy that your donors support. you get money from your donors in exchange for creating legislation that they like.
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that you do commercials for you for the commercials on air preview appearances in the media and you run elections that way.when most of them are not seriously opposed anyway. if you play your cards right you basically do not have to leave washington in order to get reelected. you have to go home symbolically and make some appearances but the way the game is played out so that raising money and doing commercials and doing legacy media appearances. you can do all of that without really talking to people. i think that is a big problem with politics. and donald trump basic strategy and talking to people, physically interacting with people and only small towns. >> host: this is joe, this is an email new york city. donald trump wants to repeal the ferguson act of 1944 allowing insurance companies to cross state lines. he wrote that. >> guest: i did. i was really interested to hear.i remember hearing him talk about that for the first time in new hampshire. he said it in a very strange way. he kind of talked about insurance companies and how they
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you know the lines it didn't quite make sense at first but then i realize he was talking of the antitrust exemption. but i have not seen any evidence that he wants to repeal it enjoyed by health insurance companies. so it could turn out to be one of these things that you know donald trump talks about a lot of things that he wanted to do. on the campaign trouble we are not seeing any of it. you know he wanted to the tax rate for people in private equity. well, where is that proposal now? you know - we will was interesting hearing him talk about it. and it was many populist things that he said is a candidate that seemed to work with people. and but again, as president, is he going to carry through? we will see.
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i don't know. i wrote about this the other day. i mean a similar example was he was in favor of importing drugs from canada. but we have not seen any evidence that he is really pushing for that either. >> host: the same with barack obama. >> guest: exactly. again, this is a problem with american politics which is that campaigns do not have a whole lot of connection to reality. there just shows. and people tend to be much more progressive or populace in their as candidates than they are once they get elected. >> host: what would be the upside or the downside of changing ferguson? >> guest: it would increase competition between certain insurance companies. right now they do not have to compete with each other.
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it is because of these antitrust exemptions that they enjoy, they basically - >> host: and h state. >> guest: exactly. it was something that they got early on. i guess it was in the early 50s that they got this exemption and they have had it ever since. it is one of the main reasons why health insurance prices are so high. and the cost of healthcare is so high. i also favor other approaches to the healthcare problem. there would be less market-based but if we are going to go market-based, the solution we have to at least you know, make it more like a free market. right now it is essentially a big protectionist bracket where they have little territories and they can charge whatever they want. >> host: from your most recent
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book, voters in america not only aren't over empowered, for decades now they have been almost totally disenfranchised, subjects are one of the more brilliant change suppression space. i'm going to read that warmer time. voters in america aren't only over empowered for decades now they've almost been totally disenfranchised subjects of one of the more brilliant change suppressing systems ever invented. >> guest: yeah. all i was saying was that it is all the things that we talked about here today. voters, they've only had two choices for the most part. both of those choices have tendencies to be supported by the same gigantic corporate donors. there is a weeding out process
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that has been happening before people even get to the point where they actually get to make a political choice. we essentially eliminate everybody who doesn't have the assent of the national news media, the political donor class, and major political parties. that is going to - has closely guarded the power for decades in this country. and yes, we get to choose between one of two parties are acceptable to the groups but that is not a terribly wide amount of political choice. interestingly, trump broke that mold. he was a true outsider anyway. he did not mean the money of the donor class to get elected. he did not use the media to get elected in a traditional way. and he was an outsider to the republican party.
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so he did not use their political missionary. so there is a blueprint now for somebody else to get elected unfortunately when we finally have a real political choice. i think spent it on the wrong person but it was interesting. >> host: the next call for matt taibbi comes from linda in phoenix. >> caller: i loved your talking about the great russian writers that we read in new york in public schools. in high school in the public schools. my question or comment is during the course of this whole program, the essence has been a very bleak picture here in the united states. the polarization. i go back, my generation is the vietnam war generation. and even then in the 50s we were not as polarized economically, politically, culturally as we
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are today. it is so disturbing to keep for persons of my generation right now, we can't see this continuing on as it is. how can we continue on as a sovereign nation with a government that is inoperable? that is glaringly inoperable. and all i can see is, given history, the division, the strong divisions and an electric where one in six persons believes that democracy is not important to them. how can this not eventually erupt and civil unrest to the- >> host: thank you linda. let's leave it there and let's hear from matt taibbi. >> guest: i totally agree with you linda. i think we are in an age of polarization that when we are going in a direction that is unsustainable, i remember way back when i was running the
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great derangement. actually even before that. i did a story where i was like undercover working and the bush campaign in 2004. i remember listening to people. which was back then just about republicans but the thing that was really interesting to me that they didn't have a vision of the country that included the you know sort of liberals. all they really want to, their idea, this sort of fantasy conception of the perfect america was a you know these liberal professors and actors from hollywood and media figures.
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they just did not exist anymore. they did not want to get along with them or they just wanted them kind of out of the way. i thought well wow, that is such a negative vision of the country. we need a vision where everyone can find a way to get along and they don't have that. now i see the same thing going on with the other side. i see there is a new kind of politics that i think has come up in the last year or so where it's not if you are a democrat sometimes it's not about here is what we stand for positively. the biggest thing that they are about is being against republicans. they don't have a vision of the country that includes republicans and look, i understand their frustrations. people are angry, they believe
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that the republicans made a racist choice. they are misogynist, but you know we have to live together ultimately. all of us. and so there has to be somebody has to come up with a way that allows us all to talk to each other again. i don't know what that is but i think that is the magic formula going forward. we have to have some kind of national reconciliation. i hope it is sooner rather than later. >> host: and clown president. matt taibbi writes politics is to be predictable. every four years the many amenities he would team up with party hats and way behind whatever part of a candidate proved most adept of snowing the population into buying the same crappy policies that they have bought. they 2016 change all of that? >> guest: i think it did. >> host: for the future also? >> guest: possibly. having with trump and to a
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lesser extent, sanders upset the card. maybe forever. because the formula has changed now. again, in the old days in order to win, in order to actually get to the white house as opposed to just being interesting and a factor like ross perot, to actually win you need the institutional support of the party. the money and the press. now, you know what trump and sanders both showed is that the voting public has a way of thinking for itself now. it does not include this institutional bureaucratic structure. and so it is not a simple matter of a bunch of people with money getting together with the party elders and deciding who's going to be a salesman and who is going to sell the policies to the people. now it is a bit of an open season.
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anybody can run. anybody can win. and you know in the case of donald trump it turned out to be a negative. but it is interesting at least. it opened up a range of possibilities. >> host: how long did it take you to write a paragraph like that we just read? >> guest: i don't know. i write fairly quickly i guess. i obsessed. i think writers do this different ways. i have heard, i read philip ross once that somebody likes the way he writes that he writes with 500 words a day or something like that. i may be missing this was about but the whole point was that you know they would get the sentence correct ahead of time and then commit it to paper than handwritten. i put text down pretty quickly. within i go back and play with it until it is smaller and tighter and so it, everybody does it a different way. >> host: campaigns native people
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only as props. matt taibbi writes if a candidate wanted to show they have here she was with us on racial issues that candidate would visit a predominantly black high school and be photographed. clapping to a school band performance. if he wanted a worker friendly image she would visit a robotics factory in wisconsin and be photographed wearing a hard hat and goggles and so on. >> guest: and again, this is the same thing that i was talking about before. you don't really need people to be a politician need them to be props for photo ops. but to actually talk to them, have their supports you know, they had mastered a way of learning elections that did not necessarily involve the you know
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the active participation of voters. and they were able to do it through money, stagecraft, production values, all of that stuff allowed them to bypass the old-school version of politics we had to actually go into the union halls and for the elks club and convince people. it is not done that way anymore. and trump incidentally is pioneering and even more interesting way of running politics which is you - he didn't even have a campaign. he was a human being appearing on television and he just let the entire media system be his campaign structure.and he did not even need staff let alone people to run his campaign. that was interesting. >> host: sometimes his speeches would just be risk. >> guest: yes they were pretty much all entirely that.
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my first busing journalism was the late wayne barrett who was an investigative reporter here at the village voice. he died early this year. but he was one of his first biographers. i talked to wayne about trump in one of the things he told me was that donald trump has never once in his life read a prepared text until his father died. he read something at his funeral. and so i watched out for that. and what you would see on the campaign trail with trump was, you go to a place and sometimes his campaign would distribute a flyer that would have the prepared remarks on it. and first line would say something like, so great to be back in manchester. and he would say it's so good to be back in manchester. and then the second line on was
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all ad lib. he is a constitutionally incapable of sticking to a script. although he did briefly after steve bannon got hired for a job that was interesting but the net change the campaign when he did this bizarre thing about reaching out to the african-american voter and he actually read those speeches. and he could see he was almost like a prisoner of war reading. but for the most part he just got up there and i think even he doesn't know what he's going to say most of the time. >> host: the next call for matt taibbi comes from elizabeth in san marcos california. please go ahead, we are listening. >> caller: hi, i love your work matt. i called in to mention that obama never really gets credit for landing the plan after the economy was headed off the cliff. you know then the plane landed on the ocean and everybody got into the lifeboat and republicans refused to row. with that as a backdrop i think it really affected obama's ability in his early days to get
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a lot of things accomplished like single-payer given her health systems like the economy at that time. all of these jobs to eliminate those at that point would have been catastrophic. anyway you want to jump in and ask you a question. i don't think that donald trump number one, we have now a shattered media environment. donald trump sent out treats and everybody is going around like a laser pointer. and big issues are not getting addressed. everyone is running off to talk about some insane things and the underlying issues that democracy really demands a lot of it is boring. you know try to get 100 people in a room to agree on anything and that is kind of what the system is built on. and by would you agree that you
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know a media environment today, donald trump didn't do it alone. i mean the radios are conservative. and fox news is there showing an alternate universe from what we have seen on cnn. so the idea that cnn and msnbc created trump, i don't necessarily buy that. given the number of men that have jobs in the country today, you know that is his driving around the middle of the country. they are listening to rush limbaugh and you know there's so many conservative talkers and there are very few liberal talkers. anyway could you comment on that a little bit? thank you. the one that is elizabeth from san marcos. >> caller: let's quickly talk about the first thing. >> guest: that is near and dear to my heart, the whole issue of barack obama and his response to
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the financial crisis. i remember talking to people on wall street before obama took office. during the transition in 2008 when the economy is in full meltdown mode. they were still in the construction of the ballots. this was almost a completely bipartisan production pair with a they were essentially senses of george w. bush and hank paulson started while the economy began to tank in september. but beyond that i remember talking to lots of people on wall street and you know, not everybody has this but some people have this view. looking forward to barack obama coming into office because he was somebody who had incredible communication skills and to be able to get up in front of a country and explain what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis. it was incredibly involved,
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complicated fraud that had essentially been perpetrated on the market. and it had disproportionately targeted you know people of color and lower income individuals that have this massive foreclosure crisis and obama really didn't do that. he elected to not address the root cause of the crisis and his response to it and he did, he continued a policy that republicans study which was to essentially throw a huge sum of money at the financial services sector to allow them to get well again and they did. and it worked to a degree. but there were persistent structural problems that were left in place. that laid the groundwork i think for future problems in the i understand that he inherited this probate lease in the area
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of the stuff that i covered i think he was disappointing. at least on that level. because he was somebody - this was a difficult topic for the public. and he really just declined to do it. when he got a chance to talk about on 60 minutes he said some of the unethical behavior on wall street was not illegal. it is true but it doesn't mean that other bad behavior on wall street wasn't illegal. it just means some of it wasn't illegal. and i think he was trying to split the baby in a way with the issue and that was disappointing to me. on the other issue about you know donald trump not doing it on the only thing i would say to that is afternoon radio and fox and the daily caller and all of those things barack obama overcame them. and he won an election by 10
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million votes in 2008.
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i don't think the media landscape is not an insuperable obstacle to a skilled politician.that would happened with the trump there was a perfect storm of a disaffected public. a candidate who was taking advantage of the reality show format of the coverage and there was a democratic candidate that was kind of in disarray. and fed into the rhetoric that trump was putting out there. he had all of that. the politicians failed. host: back and climbed present. trump supporters are people tired of being told they need to be part of a coalition in order to have a vote. the - alienated minorities especially by members of their own party. >> guest: this is something oddly enough that david from talked about in an article from the atlantic. after romney lost in 2012, the republicans looked at the results and said if we just did a little bit better with hispanics, we would probably have had won the election peers of the started casting a vote for a candidate who would have a softer message on immigration. and that was why jeb bush and up with $100 million in his campaign efforts.
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early on in that race. but it turned out that the republican electric was in a completely different place. does not where they wanted to go. they did not want to be a more inclusive party. they do not want to be more open-minded. they did not want to invite more people to attend. they wanted what donald trump was selling. he wanted to close the borders and send everybody back and so i think the party was out of touch and they were probably right in terms of where the party should have gone. and is a different matter to convince people to go there. >> host: thank you for watching c-span2 matt taibbi is with us this month. and we have greg calling in from massachusetts. >> caller: hi mike, how are you doing? >> host: it is matt taibbi. if i said mike i apologize. >> caller: i really appreciate the way that you can transfer
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your complicated stuff like financial world and come out and explain it and make it clear. there is another area that is very complicated that no one touches on about why we have an insane clown president. why there are some insane things. it is biology. there is a doctor homer in the early 80s approved the cause of all disease and mental disease is caused by shock to the system. this is all proven. he is like snowden living in norway. they won't even let him out at all. and i was wondering, a cynical person that can go through russian and financial stuff and really get to the bottom of it. but no one brings up biology.
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that we are animals doing all of this. >> host: okay we are going to leave it there matt from massachusetts.we have matt taibbi here new york. any response for that? >> guest: i do not know that doctors work so i do not think i can comment on it. i'm not against doing medical stories but that sounds like a big one to try and tackle. i don't know. >> host: you do not need to comment if you don't want to. this is an email from marcelis. two things why is - one of your favorite writers and why did you leave intercept online? >> guest: i will answer the second question first. i was going to do a publication or a website]. which is going to be part of the first look media empire and - all i can say is it did not work out.
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i disagreements with management and unfortunately the project never got off the ground. it was too bad we had a lot of talented cool people there. we were trying to re-create i don't know if you remember sky magazine. but we want to do something kind of like that and it just did not work out unfortunately. >> host: was there a money issue? >> guest: no, it was complicated. it was an interpersonal thing i would say. a clash of philosophies. you know, i just didn't - i may not be the best boss in the world either. so i think that it did not work out. but it is too bad but it you know they were really good people for the most part. in terms of sake, he is not very well known to american audiences.a writer named hector hugh munro is a little bit
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similar in style. sake had a much darker blacker sense of humor. if i remember correctly his mother was trampled to death by a cow. so he, he wrote a letter short stories that were sort of famous for having a very you know there was often a terrible animal in the story. and people were getting torn apart and things like that begin a very nasty dark view of the sort of upper crust. this was the last phase of the british empire and he was a brilliant wordsmith. very screwed up person personally. but he wrote this gorgeous, incredibly funny stories that were really some of my favorites growing up. i actually named my second son, his middle name is munro after sake. i strongly advise anyone who has never read his stories to go to
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that because they are really short. you can read them in and a half an hour but they are just really so funny. it is too bad that he is not better known. >> host: have you had any interaction with the trump white house at this point? >> guest: i have. i've talked to some people in the trump white house. not on the record though. i think one of the things that happened when this russia story started to break is i just for my own curiosity, i tried to figure out a lot of things. i have been calling a lot of people in congress and the senate and the white house. trying to make sense of it but i have not done enough to be able to report on. so unfortunately i do not have anything i can really contribute. >> host: eric levinson tweets
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that thereto stories that matt conflates. did russia interfere in the election? did donald trump collude with russia? >> is actually what i do not conflate. i have said from the beginning that and if you look back you will see this in the first stories i wrote about this. i would not be surprised at all if russia was responsible for the hack of the dnc. later when donald trump himself said i think it was probably russia, i wrote about that too. i don't actually conflate both things. i think the problem is that people do conflate them. my issue with the story is okay let's say is true, right?it doesn't necessarily follow that donald trump and the russians colluded to do this. if you think about it from a logical point of view there's no upside to the russians even to
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involve trump in that caper if they wanted to. that is the problem that i have. his people think that when i am saying i don't see proof of the collision i'm saying nothing happened. i'm not saying that. i am saying that if you want to call someone a traitor who has committed espionage against united states i you need something more solid than i think so. that is where i am with that. >> host: james in denham springs louisiana. whenever i read your "rolling stone" articles about politicians and misconduct i get so mad that i have to put down the magazine and get a drink or take a walk around the block. the get just as many are writing about these? >> guest: yes. sometimes. but you know, writing about is kind of the way you exercise
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that a little bit. again, part of the job is to get upset. you try to find ways to make sure that you are responding correctly to something as horrible. you know i think it tom if you're not getting upset than that is lena something is going on. and you probably have been doing it for too long. >> host: phil, portland, oregon. you have a few minutes left with matt taibbi. >> caller: hello c-span hello matt. just a quick comment. a quick comment before my question.this story is quite sustainable as long as - from office continues. the 90 percent answer to this -- my question, you write about the wall street grabbing of pensions. is that public and private? and can it be stopped? can they be controlled? and is there too
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much risk to public and private pensions? i will take my answer off the air.thank you. >> guest: thank you. i wrote a lot about that in the last eight years. on a couple of different levels. one you know there is the question of who is managing public pension funds? and that is a separate issue. there's a whole question of are we paying exorbitant fees for hedge funds that do not perform terribly well? and manage our money. i talked to someone he managed the pension fund in illinois. a public pension fund and he said look, you know i am paying a few pennies to invest the workers money in this gigantic fund and they are performing these hedge funds that the pay tens of millions of dollars to manage. so why would i bother? because
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over a long period of time, and all pension funds are essentially long-term so these will do well for the most part. but it was more pertinent to stuff that i did was the fact that when these gigantic financial companies were selling properties like the prime mortgage instruments, they very often targeted these big institutional investors like pension funds because what they would do is, they would pick someone who manages the funds that might make 70 $500,000 and they would take the person to vegas or the super bowl and hang out with them for a week and then that person next thing you know is by $20 million worth of some products. what happened in the financial crisis that we saw losses of 25, 30 or 35 percent across the
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board in these pension funds. public and private because they were buying huge masses of these, essentially worthless subprime mortgage instruments. it was a game. it's the same as people calling up their grandparents and offering them overpriced magazine subscriptions. you know you have a vulnerable buyer and you just seven is much as you can have a worthless product. and that is what happened in the financial crisis. it was so disturbing and so predatory and sociopathic. but it was not terribly well explained to the public. that is one of the things i was trying to get at. >> host: matt taibbi, some wanted to pick up one of her books which one would you recommend? >> guest: right now i think divide. that is why i'm happiest about.
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>> host: that came out in 2014. >> guest: yes, i spent a lot of time reporting on that book. i think it's the most elaborate of the books i read but i have another one coming out this. >> host: the divide income equality, incarceration and equality, those are the main topics. >> guest: yes. basically i had been covering white-collar crime for a long period of time i started writing this. after a period of time, i kept running. >> host: lee and maryland. you are on booktv. good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon john appeared really great show today peter. i used to enjoy hearing you on imus in the morning. of course is not on anymore. >> host: is that your point? that is outrageous? or did you
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want to ask a question? >> caller: that is it. >> guest: guest: okay, i mean look, i was in russia where vladimir putin became president. i wrote long long features about how horrible he was back then. i knew exactly who he was. i knew we came from. i was with colleagues and supporters who disappeared. people who are dead today. you know because they didn't get along with regime. no one is more sensitive than me to the inequity of vladimir putin's russia. i am totally aware of that. i think that it is a little bit of a stretch though to say that let me just say it this way, four years ago barack obama was debating mitt romney on television and mitt romney said russia was the biggest threat facing the world. barack obama said the 80s want their foreign policy back and he
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suggested that look, russia is what it is. but it is probably better for us to get along or find some way to not be completely hostile enemies with them. then for us to go back to what was in the past. i think that there is some merit to that.the two nuclear powers. what happened in theory was an incredibly dangerous thing. when donald trump was lobbing missiles into syria and their russian forces on the ground there i mean - that is a very very tense situation for that is something i worry about most of all with the trump administration's nuclear war. and russia is what it is. you do not have to agree with it. i don't like the regime there. i have never liked regime there. we are probably better off not
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in a constant state of hostility with russia then we are in one. at least that is my experience. and you know of course if you asked russia about four russians about their view of americans, they will have almost exactly the same thing to say about us. for instance, if you think about the 1996 election which i was also therefor. we openly meddled in that election. and we stood in risers for the boris yeltsin campaign. if you look -- it says a headline yanks to the rescue because we openly write about how we helped him win the russians still resent that. so there is angst on both sides and yes, it is a terrible regime. yes there world regime and the abuse journalist and they
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crackdown on all kinds of freedoms and they support awful regimes and that is who they are. but we are better off not at war than we are at war with them. >> host: >> host: - east lansing michigan. emails i was pleased to see you discussing jonathan gates. a very important book, the righteous mind. in the spirit, what do you see as conservatives best point and what you see as the biggest struggle? >> guest: the best point of conservatives? >> host: yes. and the biggest shortcoming. -- >> guest: >> guest: i think there is a complaint out there and conservative america that that certain liberal minds and liberal media has become more orthodox and unaccepting of ideas. and more hostile. i do not know if that's true or not but i think that you know
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i think that there is some truth to the fact that the conservative point of view is often excluded automatically. do i agree with it? no. but i think that it does happen. but you in terms of the weakest point if you just take the color before he was talking about the black and hispanic people are the root of all evil. i think that kind of talk has become increasingly normalized. especially the sort of fringe conservative media and stuff that you see on a lot of the sites now is scary to me. frankly. >> host: a couple of facebook comments. let's take them in order. this is harley. i would like to know if you think donald trump can really make a difference in fighting global terror bombs including modern england? >> guest: i don't think so. i think he is unsuited to deal with the terrorism problem.
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i think it is a problem of enormous complexity. it requires somebody who has a profound knowledge of all of the different relationships and historical grievances in the region. in the middle east. i think you need to have someone who knows the difference between egypt and yemen and between the shiites and the sunnis. and donald trump does not know the difference between any of that stuff. it's just all one big area that needs to be bombs to him.i think that is a failing of american foreign-policy. in unwillingness to kind of learn about what's going on in that part of the world. it was a problem when we invaded iraq frankly. we have this incredibly simplistic idea that we were going to go in there and it was going to be switzerland six
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weeks later. you know in this great flowering of western valleys going to take place. we did that because we have no idea who these people were. we were interested in their point of view and we didn't care about their history, their pride and culture. nothing! there are problems over there but we are not going to solve it does by shaking our fist and dropping bombs on it. i don't think that works. >> host: joseph oppenheimer posted on facebook. matt, the world is the most peaceful prosperous healthy, eccentrically this is coincided with the growth of capitalism, big banks, multinational companies etc. thus our united to think the little guy has been screwed? >> guest: i don't know why you asked the little guy to outthink
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him in the country have been, real incomes have been declining steadily since 1970. you know the inequality has grown at an enormous rate. you know the top one percent of the country is making dozens of times what it was making relative to the rest of the country even 40 or 50 years ago. and yes, if you look at overall at the level of wealth in places like china, you might see a better interleaving but in other parts of the world we have seen other phenomenons that are entirely negative like the inequality, the collapse of sovereign nations and places like africa and the have just seen less water in the world in the last 30 or 40 years. so i understand that global capitalism has resulted in a lot of progress. but there are issues and those
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underlie a lot of, frankly a lot of the political grievances going on today. >> host: sean in hawaii. we have one minute left. >> caller: aloha from hawaii. matt, what is your favorite hawaiian and filipino food? and because you are "rolling stone" writer, what is your favorite album or band? hello ha - hello how. >> guest: i like this crazy ice cream kind of thing i don't know how to explain it. my wife is filipino also. so we eat a little bit of filipino food at home every now and then. hawaiian food i don't know. i have only been to hawaii once. i've never met my relatives there is a matter of fact. i am ignorant as far as that
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>> host: joseph oppenheimer posted on facebook. matt, the world is the most peaceful prosperous healthy, eccentrically this is coincided with the growth of capitalism, big banks, multinational companies etc. thus our united to think the little guy has been screwed? >> guest: i don't know why you asked the little guy to outthink him in the country have been, real incomes have been declining steadily since 1970. you know the inequality has grown at an enormous rate. you know the top one percent of the country is making dozens of times what it was making relative to the rest of the country even 40 or 50 years ago.
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and yes, if you look at overall at the level of wealth in places like china, you might see a better interleaving but in other parts of the world we have seen other phenomenons that are entirely negative like the inequality, the collapse of sovereign nations and places like africa and the have just seen less water in the world in the last 30 or 40 years. so i understand that global capitalism has resulted in a lot of progress. but there are issues and those underlie a lot of, frankly a lot of the political grievances going on today. >> host: sean in hawaii. we have one minute left. >> caller: aloha from hawaii. matt, what is your favorite hawaiian and filipino food? and because you are "rolling stone" writer, what is your favorite
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album or band? hello ha - hello how. >> guest: i like this crazy ice cream kind of thing i don't know how to explain it. my wife is filipino also. so we eat a little bit of filipino food at home every now and then. hawaiian food i don't know. i have only been to hawaii once. i've never met my relatives there is a matter of fact. i am ignorant as far as that goes. albert pujols, who was musical taste in the world. i'm too embarrassed to share my musical preferences with people on air. so - that's why they keep me away from his "rolling stone". they never asked me to write about it. >> host: did a good bit disco or the bee gees? >> guest: i like rap music a lot
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but i like everything frankly.i think the ordinary person her rose into the think that i am a geek. >> host: have you noticed that your books over the years, this came out, smells like dead elephants. the name is done at the bottom. this year, your name is very big let us. did you notice that all that your name is growing? >> guest: i had not thought about that! that is cool though. i guess! >> host: all right. three hours, matt taibbi has been our guest on "book tv" in depth.quickly these are list of his books for beginning with the exile, which came out in 2000. it is about drugs and the reliable new russia. spanking - this cannot after the 04 election. smells like dead elephants dispatches from a rotting empire came in 2007. the great derangement came out
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in 2009. - the story of baker's politicians and the most audacious grab in history. 2011.


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